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Chicago Resident and Chicago Police Board President
This statement is in response to a number of media inquiries to confirm that I, indeed, was one of several individuals physically hit and struck by Chicago police on Sunday as they clashed with protestors.
I was not participating in the protest, but coincidentally encountered the demonstration at a moment when it became confrontational.
The interest in this incident likely stems from my position working toward police accountability. And that it seems ironic that someone in a public-facing position could also become a victim of police aggression.
This is the duality I live with as a Black man in America, even one who is privileged to be part of systems of power. I am not exempt from what any other Black man faces on the streets.
Despite being questioned about this incident repeatedly, I am choosing not to discuss the specifics of my encounter or dwell on how it occurred. It is more important to focus on how it could have been avoided and how aggressive police confrontations can be avoided moving forward.
While new interest in this incident is being expressed, I want to emphasize that I am not accepting interviews related to the event because I don’t want it to distract us from the very real calls for justice and police reform. There is important work to be done: if we are to improve police officer training, better educate them on de-escalation techniques and develop a peer support program in the next 90 days as we have been asked to do, we cannot afford to lose focus now.
We cannot allow the momentum of the uprisings to be lost by focusing on micro-incidents, but rather use that energy to demand accountability that we can see and feel. I encourage my fellow Chicagoans to stay involved—vote, advocate for solutions, demonstrate peacefully, support local businesses, and donate resources.
Thank you to all who were concerned about my health and safety. I am fortunately physically well, but I share the emotional burden of many right now. And thank you to all who pointed media attention in my direction so that I could add my thoughts to the significant conversation that America is and should be having at this moment.
“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one's head pointed toward the sun, one's feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom: Autobiography of Nelson Mandela